By Roni Caryn Rabin August 7, 2020
Students applying to graduate schools can take the GRE, the LSAT and other tests at home this year because of the risks of gathering in an exam room for hours during the pandemic. But applicants sitting for the longest and arguably most grueling graduate entrance exam, the Medical College Admission Test, do not have that option.
Even as the nation is overwhelmed by a tide of Covid-19 cases, the Association of American Medical Colleges, which administers the test, is requiring would-be doctors to sit for the $320 exam in small groups at testing centers running back-to-back sessions in order to make up for time lost in the spring, when exams were canceled.
New testing protocols implemented in May require test takers and staff members to wear masks and maintain social distancing, and prescribe rigorous disinfection of test centers. But examinees have complained of sloppy practices, and there have been isolated reports of people saying they tested positive for the coronavirus around the time they took the exam.
The association has acknowledged four such cases, while a student group now counts eight. (The A.A.M.C. also has issued a national “roadmap” for ending the pandemic that calls for more testing and national criteria for stay-at-home orders.)
Now that group, Students for Ethical Admissions, has called on medical schools to follow Stanford’s lead and waive the exam requirement this year, saying students taking the MCAT are putting their health at risk.
“How can the general public trust physicians and other health care workers when the medical community is so willing to endanger its own?” the student group asked last month in a letter to medical schools. The group noted that the number of new daily Covid-19 cases in the United States in July was roughly double what it had been in April, when the exams were canceled.